Leaders Worth Following

Follow a leader who:

  • Authentically loves Jesus, not simply appearing to follow him
  • Knows God’s calling on their life
  • Listens to their convictions, instead of their critics
  • Acts with confidence, not bravado
  • Cares about people, rather than controlling them
  • Has a plan to move forward, rather than just keeping people busy
  • Earns trust, rather than expecting it
  • Demonstrates integrity, rather than quick and/or easy solutions
  • Listens to and learns from others
  • Accepts responsibility, rather than making excuses
  • Develops and grows others
  • Open and honest about expectations and evaluations
  • Sees faithfulness as more important than effectiveness
  • Demonstrates an understanding of humility by being a servant
  • Loves inspiration–hearing from God–more than influence over others.

This list can’t be exhaustive! What would you add to it?

Are you a leader worth following? Why?

reflection: self-control

When I hear people talk about a lack of self-control, they are usually looking back on some impulsive action, typically with regret.

“Self-control” is mislabeled. That is to say, when I lack self control, who then, is in control? For this discussion, we will not leave the realm of personal responsibility. Let’s take a deeper look:

When we have too little self-control, we are impulsive. We fail to act without considering the consequences. Think: Mountain Dew drinking adrenaline junky.

When we have too much self control, we are paralyzed. We fail to act without extreme caution Think latte sipping librarian.

The answer is not to be somewhere in the middle, but to be in the right place when for every different kind of situation.

This begins with understanding and insight into our personal strengths and weaknesses. Most of us lean one way or the other: either the Dew drinker or the Latte sipper. Which one are you?

Don’t wish to be something else! Embrace the strengths you naturally possess!

A joy of the Impulsive is their (nearly) worry free life, everything is an unknown adventure. Life is a continuous stream of unexpected discoveries.

A joy of the Reflective is their (nearly) risk free life, everything is well known journey. Life is a comfortable series of planned results.

Chances are, one of the above is attractive and the other repulsive.

Knowing who you are is important. Knowing the world around you and the situation you face is just as important. There is a time for Fast action and a time for Slow thought.

Where is the discernment to tell the difference? Reflection will be your teacher. Ask God for wisdom.

If you are worrying too much, it is time to let go of a little self-control.

If you are constantly surprised by the consequences of your actions, it is time to slow down and add a little more forethought to your life.

If you have no wonder, it’s time to open up the throttle.

If you have no comfort from consistency, it’s time to settle down.

 

Control yourself the right amount, know your strengths and know your situations.

 

There is a time when we always need self control: in our struggles against selfish, sinful nature. The struggle to remain faithfully obedient goes beyond this post, perhaps we’ll look at this another time. (See Mark 8:34–38)

 

Safe Sins

“Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” 1 Timothy 4:16.

It isn’t easy to be a mature follower of Jesus.

In the beginning of the faith, our spiritual struggles are so visible and visceral. The path to humility and faithful obedience is easy to discern because our pride is towering, our thoughts are selfish, and our desires go unchecked.

After time, the struggles become more subtle–often to the point of shrinking from view. In my opinion, this is primarily because we learn how to play a new game. We know how to put up an impenetrable facade and fake our spiritual maturity to the world. As fallen, broken people, we can forget any lesson taught to us by God’s Spirit. We can justify nearly any action and even tell ourselves lies we are quick to believe.

And when our flaws become undeniable, we can respond with, “that’s just the way I am.”

Thanks to Duffy Robbins, I was exposed to a great blog post but Tim Keller here. In this article, Tim examines a particularly useful list of safe Christian blemishes in Christian character.

If you are looking to surrender the next thing to God, I urge you to check out Tim’s post.

How To Challenge Your Deeply Held Assumptions

“Teach me, and I will be quiet; show me where I have been wrong.” (Job 6:24)

You can’t. It’s not possible. You’ve been holding on to them so long that you’ll never let them go on your own.

Pray for:

  • divine interruption
  • fearless friends
  • an undivided heart

 

sacrificing self sufficiency

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3

Today, what has the potential to keep you from relying on God? Business? Success? Skill? Regret? Shame? What can you do to keep the myth of self sufficiency from stealing your faith?

HELP! I can’t do it all!

In my last post (which you can find here), I examined what I think are the fundamental elements to ministry. Ministry starts with a real need that is seen by someone who is passionate enough to meet that need.

Eventually, every leader comes to a point in their ministry where he or she is seeing more need than can be met. Once we learn to open our eyes to the needs of others, it’s impossible to something for everyone with a need.

There is only one messiah…and you and I aren’t him.

I think there are at least two reasons for why leaders see more need than they can meet. First, it drives us humility. We can’t do it all, but God can. He cares for the broken world far more than we do. Second, it drives us to equip others to serve. We ought to be looking for others along the way and help them see where they might be serving. In the beginning of our faith, our immaturity keeps us from seeing needs in others–we need others to teach us to care.

Leaders often see more need than they can meet so that we remain humble before God and equipping others to meet those needs.

ministry is more than motion

“But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.” Luke 10:33

We can learn a lot about ministry–loving our neighbors–from the parable of the good Samaritan. Here’s what I’ve learned:

Ministry starts with real needs. In this case, the poor man was beaten and left on the side of the road. He needed rest, food, and shelter, etc. This is a broken word and the needs are nearly infinite. Someone may need a cup of water, a visit, a word of encouragement, new clothes, a job, a good listener…you get the picture. At times, we can become enamored with a fabulous idea to help someone but everything falls flat because we’re going after a need that doesn’t actually exist.

The need must be seen by a person with enough passion to act. Many of us are blind to the needs of others, especially when we are young in the faith or caught in habitual, unconfessed sin. In this parable, the traveling Samaritan saw the hurt person on the side of the road, and did something about it. Perception and passion are essential. It is not enough to be observant, but lacking in passion. The religious leaders saw the need, but did nothing!

Ministry is meeting needs in love. The needs are real, not invented. The needs are met, not ignored. Love is action, not a comfortably held opinion.

Ministry can get complex: plans and problems will drain away simplicity. In many cases, it is necessary to have a detailed and careful plan. Often we face difficult problems that redefine the situation–new context means new approaches.

However, the complexity must not choke out the essentials. When we loose sight of the fundamentals, we run the risk of getting trapped in unbreakable and ineffective traditions.

If we’re failing to act, we must cultivate our passion.

If we’re failing to help, we must discern the needs before we evaluate our methods.

If we’re not meeting a need in love, then what we think is ministry is actually recreation.

 

One final thought. As leaders, we often see more needs than we can meet. We don’t have enough time or resources to do everything. Why would God be so cruel to open our eyes to more pain than we can help? I’ll post about that after the weekend. Until then, how do you resolve that tension?

 

 

Struggling Spiritually as a Leader

When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”  (Matthew 11:2-3)

 

Have you ever wondered, in the quiet recesses of your heart, “As a leader, is it ok for me to struggle spiritually?”

YES, it’s okay! It’s natural. It’s normal. Every believer with years of spiritual maturity has struggled. Leaders struggle too.

Although the struggle looks a little different for everyone, there seem to be some common thoughts:

  • This dry season has become the new normal for me
  • I feel like I’m faking it
  • I have to look like I have it all together
  • I can see my integrity slipping in some small ways

John the Baptist had serious struggles in the form of doubt. How could John have doubts!? He preached about the coming for Jesus for years, he even baptized Jesus and saw heaven open up!

After responding to his doubts, Jesus said he was the greatest person who ever lived. Amazing. Refreshing.

It’s ok to struggle. Doubts and temptations are constant companions in this world. It’s not a question of avoiding spiritual struggles, the challenge is to be faithful through them.

John had a question and he went after his answer (he sent people to Jesus since he was in prison). Every struggle positions us uniquely to hear God speak. I wish it weren’t so, but it seems like some of the most personal and important learnings come from struggle.

At times, we have wandered off the path of faithful obedience, and the struggle is a chance to repent and go back to doing the things God has for us.

As leaders, and more importantly, beloved children of God, the worse thing we can do is deny that the struggle exists. It’s easy to learn how to pretend, to become like the white washed tomb that looks nice on the outside but the inside is full of dead bones.

Denial has an ugly sister, and her name is guilt. She is an empty hole that consumes all light and life. She is a burden we cannot carry yet we cannot lay it down except at the foot of the cross.

It’s ok to struggle spiritually. Let’s agree to not fake it and, if needed, to repent.

 

BIBLE STUDY DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Are you struggling with your spiritual life right now? How long has it been going on? What impact has it made in your life? What seems to be the core issue or issues?

What do you think God may be saying to you? What scriptures come to mind and speak to you in this season? How will you allow God to grow you in this season?

It’s obvious that it’s not appropriate to share our problems with everyone we know. However, has “faking it” shown up in some of your relationships?

Who’s power made it happen?

The Lord said to Gideon, “There are still too many men.” (Judges 7:4)

Think about the last great accomplishment in your ministry.

How sure are you that it came from God’s power and not your own? Could you prove to yourself that you were used by God? When have you crossed the line from serving out of your Spirit given gifts into self-sufficiency?

Here’s what Gideon did:

  • He questioned God’s angel
  • He resisted God’s call by making excuses
  • He tested God and asked for a sign…several times
  • He worshiped with an offering
  • He acknowledged God’s presence
  • He build an altar to God
  • He obeyed God and demolished a pagan altar
  • He obeyed God and reduced his army, from 32 thousand to 10 thousand to 300
  • He listened when God assured him success
  • He won a battle without raising a single sword

By the way, I don’t think all of these are worth following!